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Caring for the Earth ~ Our Ecological Footprint


This is the second of a series on Caring for the earth ~ let’s keep it around for a while. In other words, to use the proper term, the sustainability of the earth. In our last blog, we said that Sister Paula Gonzalez had said that “humanity’s ecological footprint is already 30% beyond Earth’s capacity.

Perhaps the notion of “footprint” is hard to grasp. You know what a footprint is.  It’s evidence that you’ve been around.  Well, one’s “ecological footprint” is how much space you take up on the planet, in terms of what you consume.

If you look at the chart above that helps to explain it, unless you deny that CO2 is an issue, i.e. global warming as many politicians tend to do. CO2 emissions come from coal, oil and natural gas.  And we’re way behind other countries in developing the use of solar and wind power.  I mentioned in my last article that even the Pope for some years now has used solar extensively in the Vatican.  When I took a trip across country in 2008 I was surprised to see wind farms all across Texas, known, of course, for its oil refineries.

Let’s look at that graph above.  A person’s “footprint” is measured by usage of built-up land, nuclear energy CO2, fishing ground, forest, grazing land, and cropland.  Notice that we Americans are the greatest offenders.  What surprises me is Australia isn’t far behind! Then England, followed closely by Germany, Russia and Japan.

Note the two lines on the left side of the graph:

Humanity’s Total Ecological Footprint

CO2 Portion of Total Footprint

And between them the thin line of Earths Ecological capacity.

Worrisome, isn’t it?

Let’s reflect on what we’ve looked at so far:

What is your first response to these summary facts:

a) We are NOW living beyond the capacity of the planet?

b) The U. S. ecological footprint is twice that of the industrial world?

c)  Almost half of our footprint is from fossil fuel use (coal, oil, natural, gas.)

Do you deny that this is happening?  Do you deny climate change?

Are you fearful for your children and grandchildren?

Are you angry and frustrated at the inaction of our government(s)?

Are you at the point of despair?

As Pope Benedict challenged us in his New Year’s message, we have some lifestyle changes to make if we’re going to survive.  Many of these are very simple things, like changing your light bulbs, saving water, paper ~ well, I’ll let you know in a few days. 

Dear God,

Creator of this lovely world,

thank you, for the fruits of the earth that sustain our lives

and bring us joy and health and happiness

We are sorry that we have not cared for it as we should.

Please help each of us to do what we can care for this lovely earth,

so that it will be around for a while.

To You be all honor and glory. Amen.

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

In case you’re wandering why all the white space underneath the graph, that was scanned into a jpg; it scanned the whole page ~ nothing I could do about it.



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